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Wagstaff’s Picks – Weekend of November 16-18, 2017 November 15, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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Welcome to the SPECIAL MATH EDITION of my picks. After crunching numbers different ways, some adjustments to the picking strategy have been made, and results were a bit better.

In my usual way of picking, I went a dismal 2-5-1 last week, bringing the season totals to 48-52-3.

In the number crunching math world last week with picks¬† I won’t post here but TRUST ME!!!!! I went 12-11-1 in picks against spreads, but 20-11 in over/unders.

So, the new method is where we’ll go this week. So there.

College Games:

S Florida by 22 over Tulsa

W Kentucky +3 against Mid Tn St

Virginia Tech by 15 over Pittsburgh

Wake Forest by 2 over NC State

Northwestern by 7.5 over Minnesota

Old Dominion by 8 over Rice

Memphis by 13 over SMU

Iowa St by 9 over Baylor (if I could only pick one game this week, this would be it)

Penn St by 26 over Nebraska

Arkansas St by 26 over Texas St

Some over/unders:

Oklahoma/Kansas OVER 70.5

Air Force/Boise State OVER 57

Arizona St/Oregon State OVER 59

Oklahoma St/Kansas St OVER 65

Basically, I put together a method of varying calculations to project likely scores and went from there. If my projections were in sync with the point spreads and over/under totals, I’d pass. If something was askew or could be gambled on based on recent team trends (and THAT’S the true iffiness factor), I’d go for it. It’s worked pretty well so far with NBA picks too, by the way, even though I won’t be posting those here.

Some great games this weekend as we come down to the end of the season and all those teams knocking at the top-4-playoff door are essentially playing early playoff games. And if you noticed, I’m staying away from most of ’em.

I get the entire week of Thanksgiving off, too. Looking forward to it… even if it contains my birthday.

It’s not easy turning 157, y’know. Everything hurts.




Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of November 10-11, 2017 November 8, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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Only a few more weeks of this to see if I can improve my overall percentage. I went 4-5 last week to drop below .500 with totals of 46-47-2. Not exactly the sort of numbers encouraging me to go pro, are they?

Then again, nothing encourages me, except maybe a cat looking at me for pets. I need to get out more.

For this week, I’ll start with a decent Friday night game and pick Washington to cover 5 1/2 over Stanford.

In the Saturday games:

South Carolina by 7 over Florida

Boston College plus 3 against NC State (and a +135 moneyline to boot since I think they’ll win)

Utah plus 1 against Washington State

Southern Miss by 10 over Rice (I had some Szechuan Chicken over rice the other night, I’ll take it as a sign)

Arizona State plus 2 1/2 against UCLA (and a +120 moneyline on that one for AZ State as well)

Clemson by 16 over Florida State (I bet that one looked a lot better back when the schedule was made)

Arizona by 22 over Oregon State because, well, why not?

NHL/NBA update: Still honing the overall system, but getting a tad better in the NBA picks, which hopefully bodes well for college basketball season coming up. 47-41 overall. Meh. If anything, I’m getting more money’s worth out of my DirecTV since I’m watching more games I’ve staked my ego on, if not real money.

Wagstaff’s Picks – Weekend of November 4, 2017 November 2, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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I’m still stuck at .500 after going 4-4 last week, bringing the totals to 42-42-2. But that’ll be tough to do this week without a push in there, since I have 9 games I’m fairly confident about.

I think I will abandon making NFL picks this season. No, nothing to do with anthem protests and so forth, much more to do with the total unpredictability stemming from the amount of parity in the league this year. Any team can beat any other team on any given week, it seems (never mind the overall quality of play looking like crap compared to previous years). So while I’ll continue to follow the Patriots, I’m not going to mix NFL point spreads and the like into my stats.

Want more impressive stats? While I haven’t posted any of my NBA or NHL picks as I work on honing various screens in both of those sports, I’m 31-23 so far. I don’t plan to post those, I’m simply trying the exercise to see if it’ll be worthwhile.

This week’s picks:

Syracuse plus 5 1/2 against Florida State

Northwestern plus 1 1/2 against Nebraska

Iowa State plus 2 1/2 against West Virginia

Nevada plus 22 against Boise State

Southern Miss plus 6 1/2 against Tennessee

Tulane by 5 1/2 over Cincinnati

UAB by 10 1/2 over Rice

Fresno State by 14 over BYU

Washington State by 2 over Stanford

I also like the +210 moneyline on Southern Miss to win against Tennessee outright, but I won’t make that one part of my won/lost stats. If I were betting in Vegas, I’d also most likely take the moneylines in the Northwestern (+100) and Iowa State (+120) games instead of the spreads since I think they’ll win outright, and those spreads don’t make a lot of difference in games I don’t think will be that close.

But what the hell do I know? I’m still at .500


Wagstaff’s Picks – Week of October 27-28, 2017 October 24, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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Another wash week (yeah I know, I could use a bath). I went 4-4-1 to keep my season totals at .500 at 38-38-2. Only another month or so of the college games, and I’m not crazy about picking NFL this season since everyone is beating everyone else.

And while I’ve been branching out towards NBA and NHL picks, on paper anyway, I really don’t think I’ll be posting those here. I probably shouldn’t post the football picks that much and blog about other stuff, but I’d rather NOT blog about the next Wagstaff mystery in the works until it’s done, and that’ll be only God knows when.

Sorta like other books in the pipeline. That pipeline, I believe, runs to Alaska at this point. Oy.

In any case, I’m not too bad at picking games in sports like basketball and hockey where I know next to nothing compared to football and baseball. Maybe that’s the key. I’m 8-2 (money line only) so far in the NHL and 3-3 (with spreads) in the NBA.

No one is signing me up for a fat contract at Barstool or elsewhere, however. Meh.

The Yankees went further than I ever thought they would this year, although they fell short of the World Series by a hair. It turned out to be a lot more like the 1995 Yankees rather than the 1996 team, but I think the history-rhymes version of that late ’90s run is coming up soon.

The Patriots defense looked a HELL of a lot better against the Falcons on Sunday night, and hopefully will continue to play at this level or better in the second half of the season.

I just finished watching the Dodgers look pretty damn good in Game 1, and landed on the 2nd half of Slap Shot while channel surfing. So it’s all good!

Anyway, here are this week’s picks, starting with two Friday games:

Boston College plus 3 against Florida State

SMU by 10 over Tulsa

Wake Forest plus 2 1/2 against Louisville

Rutgers plus 23 1/2 against Michigan

Marshall by 17 over Florida International

Virginia plus 3 1/2 against Pittsburgh

Notre Dame by 7 over NC State

North Texas by 12 over Old Dominion

Let’s see if I can climb above even money this week.

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of October 19-21, 2017 October 18, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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I ran the table with last week’s choices, going a PERFECT 7-0! I can’t remember the last time I did that, not sure if I ever did, though I’ve hit 4 team parlay bets in Vegas on my tippy-top choices a couple of times.

It evened up my season totals to 34-34-1.

A 7 team parlay would pay 75-1 or thereabouts. Hmm…. maybe I WILL go pro.

Or maybe this week, I’ll go down the toilet. Who knows?

Still skipping the pro picks, and it’s a good year to do so. Everyone is beating everyone else in the NFL this year. I throw up my hands and walk away from it, even if the worst call in the history of replays basically gave my Pats a win last week. An ugly, undeserved win against a crappy Jets team, too. Doesn’t exactly bode well for their chances against tougher teams like the Falcons, Raiders and Steelers coming up. The defense has been pathetic.

But college games have been fun, and there are some great matchups this week, although I’m only picking one of them.

9 games this week, the first on Thursday:

Arkansas State by 12 1/2 over LA Lafayette

SMU by 7 1/2 over Cincinnati (the one I’m iffiest about, if you care)

Ohio U by 19 over Kent State

East Michigan plus 3 against West Michigan

Michigan State by 6 1/2 over Indiana

UAB by 7 1/2 over Charlotte

Duke by 8 over Pittsburgh

Idaho plus 15 against Missouri

Notre Dame by 3 1/2 over USC

A 9 team parlay payout is 300-1. Ball’s in your court, mac.

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of October 14, 2017 October 12, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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Another middling result from last week. I went 7-6 to bring the season totals to 27-34-1. Only 7 picks to make this week, so if I run the table, I’ll be batting .500 for the season.

Been watching a lot more baseball than football in the past couple of weeks as well – the playoffs have been great, and the Yankees are doing WAY better than I ever would have predicted, and I’m enjoying all of it.

No NFL picks again, but here are my 7 college football choices:

Ohio U by 9 1/2 over Bowling Green

Virginia by 3 1/2 over North Carolina

Marshall by 15 1/2 over Old Dominion

Utah plus 13 against USC

Ohio State by 24 over Nebraska

New Mexico State by 7 1/2 over Georgia Southern

South Carolina plus 3 1/2 against Tennessee

And no, I really didn’t care about the Star Wars trailer.


Wagstaff’s Picks: Week of Oct 4-7, 2017 October 3, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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The worst case scenario resulted from last week’s picks – I went 5-5.

My original theory, as you may have surmised by the picture clue from the previous post, was to make my picks and then actually go with the opposite. Was my handicapping a reverse barometer?

Well, no.

My handicapping makes no difference whatsoever, it seems. I’m no different than a random coin flip. A solid 50%.

I REFUSE to believe that. Maybe it would work that way in a single week, but over the course of an entire season, my thought processes/opinions/analysis should prove better than 50% if I’m accurate and lower if I keep making mistakes.

Season totals are 20-28-1, for a percentage of .408, so perhaps a few more weeks of non-negative results can bring me up to that magic 60% figure found among the top pros at this crap.

Back to my original screens/system/masochism. I came up with these:

Arkansas St by 7 1/2 over Georgia South

Notre Dame by 15 over North Carolina

Buffalo plus 6 1/2 against Western Michigan

Ohio U by 12 over Central Michigan

Syracuse by 4 1/2 over Pittsburgh

New Mexico State plus 11 against Appalachian State

Maryland plus 31 1/2 against Ohio State

Minnesota plus 4 against Purdue

Utah plus 6 1/2 against Stanford

Tulane by 4 over Tulsa

LA Monroe by 6 over Texas St

Northern Illinois by 23 1/2 over Kent State

Miami by 3 over Florida State

Hopefully I’ll improve. Hopefully the Patriots’ defense will improve.

Hopefully…well, a lotta things, to be honest. But time will tell.

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of September 28-30, 2017 September 27, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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I did a tad better than in the last round, but not much better than a coin flip. Going a total of 8-7 brings me to a season total of 15-23-1.

Which SUCKS.

So a NEW screen has been added this week, just to see what happens.

I’ll tell you what it is next week, if it works.

So here we go:

Texas by 6 over Iowa State

Duke plus 6 1/2 against Miami

Kentucky by 14 1/2 over East Michigan

Massachusetts plus 8 1/2 against Ohio U

Northwestern plus 14 against Wisconsin

Connecticut by 18 over SMU

Arkansas by 17 over New Mexico State

Florida by 10 over Vanderbilt

North Texas plus 8 1/2 against Southern Miss

Nevada plus 10 against Fresno State

My new screen worked amazingly well in some paper baseball betting… we’ll see if it works here.

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of September 21-23, 2017 September 19, 2017

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My picks last week were so wrong, so pathetic, so ultimately crappy…. I decided I needed to overhaul my methods.

As tempting as it was to continue picking the same way and then simply applying the George Costanza “just do the opposite!” theory, I instead went through EVERY lined game and crunched data on the spreads & outcomes.

My goal? To come up with a more automatic screening system, similar to stock screens.

I’ve tried lots of stock screens. Some of them have actually worked. And when they’ve worked, they’ve been pretty consistent, if I stuck to the rules and didn’t let emotions sway me. Let’s see if spotting weaknesses in what the oddsmakers post can work the same way.

Although if you’re paying attention, last week’s Duke game illustrated the contrarian rule I mentioned – when a spread seems WAY out of whack with what you think is reality, bet with it… the oddsmakers know more than you. Duke by 14 seemed high, but then they won by 14. ON THE FRICKIN’ NOSE.

I made the HUGE mistake of listening to too much sports radio and some podcasts about betting football lines. I let the discussions amongst the professionals influence me, especially in going with teams like Pitt, BYU and Louisville last week.

I’m tuning all of it out. Back to playing Count Basie and books on tape during my drives.

I will cleanse myself of outside influences.

First, I went through all the lined games from last week, all the stats and so forth. 59 games in total. Jeez.

I set up some screens, crunched some numbers, and came up with a set of screens that would have had solid results last week. So, let’s try an experiment and see if it works with week, with a bonus level added. I went through every lined game for this week…. 56 of ’em this time. Oy. But here’s what I came up with…

College Football Picks Passing ALL Screens:

Penn State by 12 1/2 over Iowa

Clemson by 34 over Boston College

VA Tech by 28 over Old Dominion

Navy by 11 1/2 over Cincinnati

UNLV plus 40 1/2 against Ohio State

Michigan State plus 4 against Notre Dame

Ball State plus 7 1/2 against Western Kentucky

College Football Leaners – Most Screens passed, but not all – for experimental purposes only:

S. Florida by 20 over Temple

Duke by 2 1/2 over North Carolina

Purdue plus 10 against Michigan

LA Tech plus 8 1/2 against South Carolina

Kentucky plus 2 1/2 against Florida

E. Michigan by 2 1/2 over Ohio U

Under 51 1/2 in the Georgia State/Charlotte game

Syracuse plus 23 1/2 against LSU

No NFL picks this week – the system I put together needs more data, and they haven’t played enough games yet.

My pathetic record thus far is 7-16-1 for a batting average of 30%. BUT THIS IS WHERE IT ALL TURNS AROUND!

Hopefully… the screens I’m using would have returned a 9-1 record last week with a bunch of different games I ignored. I’ll take a chance that doing that well above a 50% “control norm” is a big enough disparity to prove the worthiness of my screens. Let’s see what happens this week, and if I’m actually on to something here.

And a shanah tovah to y’all!

Wagstaff’s Picks: Week of September 16, 2017 September 14, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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I’m not going pro, not yet. Not after a mediocre record last week.

It wasn’t enough to watch the Patriots defense dissolve into melted butter. I also misread some teams that could not cover big spreads, and it looks like USC is for real. Well, so far, anyway.

I’ll swing for the fences this week with a dozen picks I have decent levels of confidence in, as well as discussing a couple of others where I’ll bow out and leave it up to you.

College Games:

I looked at a bunch of matchups with large spreads to see which ones I thought were overreactions to the first couple of weeks of games. We’re still in that phase of the early season in both college and pro, before the oddsmakers have more and more data to work with.

I like BYU plus 17 against Wisconsin. BYU has sucked so far, I’m going with the “they’re DUE!” factor since they are a better team than how they’ve played so far, and they’re at home. I don’t know if they’ll win, but I’m guessing it will be a low scoring game, and 17 points is a lot. I also like Pittsburgh plus 14 against Oklahoma State, banking on Pitt coming off a tougher game versus Penn State and Oklahoma State coming off playing Tulsa and S. Alabama.

For covering a big spread, I like the aforementioned USC to cover 15 1/2 over Texas as well as taking the Over 67 1/2 in that one, and Minnesota to cover 10 over Middle Tennessee State.

The game that jumps out of the odds board is Duke as 14 (!) point favorite over Baylor. Baylor was once a national power, but they have truly sucked so far this year, never mind all the problems they’ve had with their program off the field. Duke has played well, but are they really this good?? My number crunching puts Duke at maybe a 3-4 point edge, so part of me thinks this is a slam-dunk pick to go with Baylor. But in the back of my mind is an old contrarian angle when it comes to out-of-whack spreads like this, which is: the oddsmakers know more than you. They’re NOT that stupid… so while the number-cruncher says Baylor, my contrarian gut says to go against the crowd and pick Duke. Consequently, I am not making a pick here, but will instead merely observe to see what wins – my numbers, or the contrarian historic angle.

Another game that’s a close call but ultimately a pass for me is Miami OH by 5 over Cincinnati. I’m fairly confident in Miami OH to win, just not sure about the 5 points. Meh.

Rounding out the college picks: In the big Saturday night game, I like the at-home-revenge angle and will go with Louisville plus 3 1/2 against Clemson. Clemson got by them last year, but it was close, and Jackson has improved as QB. It’ll be a good game that I think Louisville can win outright. I also like California at home plus 3 1/2 against Ole Miss, and I’ll go with the Over 49 1/2 in the Tennessee/Florida matchup.


After watching Kansas City beat the crap out of my team last week, I am TOTALLY UNEMOTIONAL as I pick against them this week.

No, really!

I like the Eagles plus 6 against the Chiefs, as well as the Over 48 in the game. Philly looked decent against Washington last week, and the Chiefs lost their best defensive player.

I like betting Overs. Especially when the total is topped earlier in the game, and I can kick back and watch the rest of it play out with no stress and a drink in my hand, knowing I’ve won. Betting unders mean staying nervous until the final tick.

I also like the Vikings plus 5 1/2 against the Steelers, and the Packers plus 3 against the Falcons, even if it’s the Falcons in their spiffy new stadium. The Falcons squeaked by the Bears last week, and the Packers are way more dangerous.

So there you are, 12 picks. I went 3-5 last week to bring the season totals to 5-6-1.